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Favorite London Neighborhoods

I will be in London next Fall and am hoping to rent an apartment. I've been once before, staying at a hotel in the South Kensington area. I'm wondering what areas people like to stay in and why they like it. Just for an idea of what I like, in Paris I prefer the 4th, 5th and 6th arrondissements. I'm looking to be fairly central and walkable to museums, etc. if possible. If you have any apartment recommendations, I would love to hear them too. I need a studio or one bedroom and would like it to have a washer. Thanks!

Posted by
8293 posts

I would prefer something under £125 per night. At this point I am really more concerned with deciding what areas I should be looking in.

Posted by
119 posts

I absolutely love the South Bank - it is easily walkable to many of the main tourist sights, and I just loved strolling along the Thames every evening down to Gabriel's Wharf; its a very vibrant area and if I ever had a chance to live in London long term, I'd want to live there. I was staying near Waterloo, so there were many transportation options. I was able to hear the trains from the station though, so that is one thing to keep in mind.

Posted by
2711 posts

Bloomsbury. Have only stayed at hotels and B&B's here. I would go with VRBO for apartment or flat rental.

Posted by
8293 posts

Thanks for the suggestions. I have always used VRBO or Homeaway for apartment rentals. In addition to those sites I think I will also check out airbnb. Any other neighborhood suggestions???

Posted by
516 posts

Spent a week in the Covent Garden area and loved it. Look for apartments as soon as you have dates. They rent fast.

Posted by
448 posts

Hi Andrea: Based on my two previous visits to London, the last one being in 2012 for 16 days, I have chosen to stay in the Victoria neighborhood for my next trip to that city which will be in 2014 for 18 days. My preference would be for the Chelsea neighborhood where I stayed in 1998 but that area is now out of my price range. Victoria is close to most everything that I want to see on the next trip (museums, government buildings). The downside of this area is that most of the budget accommodations (e.g., less than $175 per night for a single person) seem to be in family owned B&Bs where the rooms are small and could be in multi-story buildings without an elevator. The website bookings.com shows the areas of many of the rooms that it lists, and it amazes me that one B&B which is described in one guidebook (not RS's) offers a 45(!) square foot room for $100/night, and that is with a shared bath room/toilet. Because I will need to be in contact with my office while on vacation and will need a desk on which to work plus an internet connection (preferably by ethernet and not by wifi) and do not need to be pampered I have chosen to stay at the Goldsmid House which is a few blocks sway from the Victoria Underground station. This is a university residence hall that was built in 2008. For $82/night I get a reasonably large room with a desk and ethernet plus my own shower and toilet. There is a shared kitchen nearby and washers/dryers on the ground floor. The cancellation policy is reasonable (100% refund less a $15 administration fee for cancellations up to two weeks before the reservation date); many of the places in London have a no refund policy.

Posted by
541 posts

Our favorite areas for apartment rentals have been South Kensington and Chelsea. We just returned from a week in a flat in Chelsea and loved it. Both areas are not on the economical side, but if you do some digging, you may find what you need in the area. Chelsea tends to be slightly cheaper in my experience and the tube stops aren't as numerous, but we walked no more than 15-20 minutes to 3 different ones. If you like the 4th, South Kensington feels more like Paris every time we return. Lots of French expats living there so lots of great bakeries and cafes too. One word of caution: be sure to do your research on apartment rentals in London. There's a lot of horror stories on Tripadvisor about apartment scams. If this is your first time renting in London, I'd post what you have narrowed your list down to on TA and let the good folks on TALF throw stones at it. There's another guy over there that have a pretty comprehensive list of legitimate rentals. They may even point you in the direction of a location like Spitalfields that isn't high on the RS gang's radar but would make a great location to a lot of places too. Enjoy London!

Posted by
2711 posts

I suggest this place, the Citadines, in Covent Garden. Great location, walking distance to lots of pubs, restaurants, grocery stores, and sights.

http://www.citadines.com/en/uk/london/holborn_covent_garden.html

Also, look at the London School of Economics website:

www.lsetopfloor.co.uk

They have apartments for rent in several locations. I prefer High Holborn, but all locations are good, with good access to transportation, all near restaurants and are walking distance to many historic sights. Sometimes their website will say that they have no vacancies when that is not true(website glitch); you should call them to check vacancies and make a reservation.

Their Grosvenor House has apartments/studios, and is located near Covent Garden. Northumberland House is located near Trafalgar Square, and Buckingham Palace. Both good locations.

The reason I had suggested Bloomsbury in my first post is because it is centrally located, has good transportation connections to tube and bus, it is where the British Museum is located, and it is walking distance to Covent Garden which has many good restaurants.

The other neighborhood I would suggest when searching is South Kensington. Lots of good cafes and restaurants, and grocery stores. It was the neighborhood where Princess Diana lived. Try Cafe Diana for a good pita sandwich and salad.

Posted by
2779 posts

Run, don't walk, to the Fleet River Bakery website and check out their studio apartments above the bakery. New, modern, and well-equipped, including washer/dryer. The neighborhood is Lincoln's Inn Fields, near.the London School of Econ and easy walking distance to the British Museum, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and St. Paul's. Shops and pubs nearby. Price for single occupancy is 88 GBP and includes breakfast in the bakery. They book up early but there is some availability in October and maybe November.

Posted by
3419 posts

I have to second Rebecca's recommendations. We really enjoyed the Citadines in Covent Garden/High Holborn, though it has been a long time since we stayed there. I've also heard good things about the London School of Economics locations.

We have stayed in the Covent Garden/ Neal's Yard area and the Victoria Station neighborhood many times. We loved both. Covent Garden is especially nice for walking to many areas (Piccadilly, Trafalgar, etc.) and Victoria is a great area with excellent Tube connections.

Posted by
8293 posts

Thanks for the continuing ideas.

I checked the Fleet River Bakery website a few days ago upon recommendation from a friend. They already seem booked for most days in my projected time there! I didn't think I was going to have to lock myself into an itinerary this far ahead, but it looks like I may have to. At least to know what dates I will be in London.

Posted by
2779 posts

Yes, Fleet River Bakery is very popular! But I did see one room that was available for a block of ten days in October. Would that work? It is the same neighborhood as the Citadines recommended by two others, right by Holborn tube stop.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ Andrea

"I didn't think I was going to have to lock myself into an itinerary this far ahead, but it looks like I may have to"

depending on where and when you are going, sometimes you have to.

I will be heading back thru London next fall myself and i know i will have to make reservations now. Its my 2nd time there at that time of the year and its just something that has to be done.

You can always "wing it" and end up someplace you dont like or like, someplace that cost more or not.

happy trails.

Posted by
8293 posts

I'm flying into London but planning on going to other GB locations at the beginning of this portion of the trip, ending in London. From there I will be going to France. Maybe I will have to guess how long I will be in GB before spending time in London, then guessing how many days I will allot there.

Posted by
8293 posts

@ Sasha - We arrive in London on 9/12, but I plan to leave right away to head for Bath. I have a rough draft itinerary (I will post it under General Europe for feedback) that has us in GB until 9/27. I want to end our GB time in London so we can take the Eurostar to Paris. It looks like staying at the Fleet River Bakery is not going to happen.

Posted by
8293 posts

I found an apartment that would work for us in the Kings Cross area. It looks like it would be convenient to catch the Eurostar, but what about for general sightseeing?

Posted by
26046 posts

Well, Kings Cross / St Pancras (KX), except for immediate access to trains to Paris, Brussels, and the gateway to Europe, and trains to York, Cambridge and Scotland on the doorstep is not particularly well located for tourists.

The British Library is on the other side of St Pancras International station.

Nearly walking distance to Bloomsbury and Islington, but not much else of interest, KX is on the periphery of central London, nearly due north of the Aldwych beyond the Congestion Zone. Because of the 2 stations there, 3 if you include KX Thameslink, there are good tube connections and several buses.

Tube Lines at KX include
Northern Line - Bank Branch
Circle Line
Hammersmith and City Line
Metropolitan Line
Victoria Line
Piccadilly Line

Bus lines 45 and 17 go between KX and the Thames. 45 goes through the western part of the Square Mile of the City and crosses the river on the Blackfriars Bridge. 17 goes much further into the old City, passing St Pauls, and crosses the river on London Bridge, passing right in front to Borough Market.

Everywhere else in London will be more complicated.

The KX area is, to a degree, undergoing a little bit of a gentrification. Now I am happy to go to the various hospitals in the area or my company doctor. The previous reputation of the area was dominated by the slums of the Cali and Pentonville, Her Majesty's Prison Pentonville, and quantities of undesirables around the stations including drugs and ladies (and boys) of the night.

The prison is still there, but most of the other negatives are much diminished.

Most of the new hotels in the area are re-used older buildings by chains at the budget end of the spectrum like Travelodge and Tune.

When staying nearby I have always stayed in Bloomsbury or Euston. If I want a budget hotel before an early Eurostar departure in the future I may stay at the Travelodge at the top of Grays Inn Road.

Good luck with your planning.

Posted by
8293 posts

Thanks Nigel. Hmmm...good location over a 6 night stay should trump proximity to the Eurostar. I found this apartment on airbnb.

Luxurious Studio in Prime Location
Apartment - Entire home/apt · Caledonian Rd, London, N1 9BT, United Kingdom

Posted by
980 posts

SoHo is great and close to everything so I when I took my teenage kids, we stayed there. When I went on a ladies' trip, I chose the Bloomsbury area since it's much quieter but still close proximity to sights and easy transportation access. I stayed in the Victoria Station area before also but felt that that was a little bit farther from sights. With London's great busses, tube system and cabs, it's fairly easy to get around though.

Posted by
26046 posts

Andrea,

That address is in the heart of the Cally (Named after Caledonian Road) which I mentioned above. If the weather is decent I may drive up to London tomorrow to hear the St Pauls New Year four hour Peal and if I do go I will drive by. You can also use Google Street View.

Because I would have never considered staying in the Cally, I'd hoped others with intimate London knowledge would have chimed in (see what I did there?). It is a shame we haven't heard from others. I don't want to be a naysayer if there are others with positive experiences of the area.

Posted by
8293 posts

Nigel, if you are able to check the neighborhood out that would be fantastic. The apartment is a good price and has everything we need. But if the neighborhood is bad or inconvenient we will look in the other areas mentioned. With a 5 1/2 week trip we do have to be concerned with lodging costs. I don't want to hate where we are staying though.

Thanks for the information everyone!!

Posted by
1878 posts

I have stayed in the area near Victoria Station three times, both on vacation this past spring and as an add-on to business trips on prior years. One side of the station is Belgravia, the other side Pimlico.) I have found this area to be nice and yet affordable, and very convenient to the places you might want to see as a tourist.

Posted by
7996 posts

Hi Nigel, "When staying nearby I have always stayed in Bloomsbury or Euston".. are those your top choices of neighborhoods to stay in or did you mean only if you were staying near the Eurostar? If you meant only to be close to the Eurostar, what are your favorite neighborhoods to stay in?

Posted by
26046 posts

Sorry not to be clear, Susan, that's only when shuffling over to Eurostar at the crack of dawn.

Because we love following in the footsteps of people in the middle ages and later like Samuel Pepys and Sam Johnson, we prefer to stay in the City - the Square Mile that is along the River between the City of Westminster and the Tower. We haven't been there for a while but our favourite is the Crowne Plaza Blackfriars (or CP London City as it may be called) which is across the road from Blackfriars station, Apothecary Hall, the Black Friar pub, and in the shadow of St Brides Church and within the sound of the bells of St Pauls Cathedral (footnote - heard a nice chunk of their 4 hour New Years Day Peal of over 5000 changes today - even in blowing wind and pouring rain the sound is fabulous).

I realize that our preferences of what to do in London are probably different to those visiting London on a holiday.

Posted by
7996 posts

Thanks Nigel! Very helpful. Sounds very appealing to me, I'll make note of it for our next visit.